'Focussing inwards' brings pandemic results in Jaipur

A programme of commitment to its stakeholders and community has earned Jaipur publisher Rashtradoot a place among INMA's special COVID-19 response awards category.

The Indian media company is among finalists in the local/regional brands category, while The Hindu, Chennai (for 'Stay Home - Stay Vigilant') and the Straits Times, Singapore (for 'Making Sense of the Pandemic for Young Readers') were finalists in the national/international brands category. Winners will be announced on June 2, together with those of the other categories announced in February.

The bonus category reflects structured initiatives by media companies to inspire community and engagement during today's pandemic. Initiatives packaged under news brands aim to bring communities together, provide hope, lift spirits, encourage interactivity, inspire trust, and do good.

Some 98 entries were submitted for the COVID-19 category launched in April. From that, judges selected 12 finalists - six from national/international companies and six from local/regional companies.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is the 'trust moment' for news media brands, and the entries submitted for this bonus INMA category redefine what 'inspiration' and 'hope' mean," said INMA executive director and chief executive Earl Wilkinson. "Feedback from the judges has been that this was one of the toughest assignments ever and that every entry truly is a winner."

Realising they had limited resources as the region's third-largest player, Rashtradoot decided to focus inwards with the COVID-19 response. "We wanted to reach out and support the community, but not at the expense of our own stakeholders, who are a part of that very community," said the publisher in its entry statement.

The Stand Tall with Rashtradoot campaign addressed "the three most important pillars of our work" - stakeholders, circulation and coverage. Neither staff nor salaries were cut, staff living in hotspots were accommodated in guest houses with meals and transportation, and company pickup/drop off extended to all employees affected by lack of public transportation. Hawkers were encouraged to resume daily operations with 2000 provided with a cooking and cleaning "essentials box", free health and life insurance given to 4000 hawkers and their families, and hawkers from impoverished socio-economic backgrounds provided with education.

No lapse in circulation was allowed, with an in-house team delivering newspapers in areas where hawkers did not ply. Distribution was arranged through 520 milk booths, fruit/vegetable vendors and provision stores, and 120 manual newspaper vending machines were set up.

Rashtradoot claims to have been the only newspaper in the region not to reduce the number of pages printed, focussing on detailed and accurate reporting, "positive and life-affirming" front pages through trademark picture captions, and a human angle covered through the English section, ARBiT.

The publisher says individual deliveries by hawkers increased 15 per cent, with 6000 new households touched and a 90 per cent turnout of employees each day.

Employee satisfaction was at an all time high, with daily employment enquiries and the initiative justified by its success in "human terms".

INMA has made all 98 entries available in its 'best practices' archive.

The bonus COVID-19 category brings the total number of entries to the 2020 competition to 922. From 185 finalists, first-place winners will be announced June 2 in an international online broadcast.

The finalists, in alphabetical order and with links, are:

Local/regional brands

Göteborgs-Posten, Gothenburg, Sweden, "GP Loves Gothenburg"

HLN, Antwerp, Belgium, "Tour de Flanders Against Corona"

Jutarnji list, Zagreb, Croatia, "Coloring Book: Color Your Quarantine Days"

Rashtradoot, Jaipur, India, "Stand Tall With Rashtradoot"

Russmedia, Schwarzach, Austria, "#vorarlberghältzusammen" (VoralbergSticksTogether)

La Voz de Galicia, A Coruna, Spain, "We Are Your Voice"

National/international brands

The Big Issue, London, UK, "The Big Issue"

CNN, New York, USA, "CNN 411: Coronavirus Information and Local Resources"

The Hindu, Chennai, India, "Stay Home - Stay Vigilant"

Onet, Warsaw, Poland, "How to #Stayathome and Not Go Crazy?"

The Straits Times, Singapore, "Making Sense of the Pandemic for Young Readers"

The Telegraph, London, UK, "You Are Not Alone"

Pictured: Publishers of The Big Issue - sold by vulnerable people in London as a way to earn a living and help them out of poverty - found new ways to support vendors when "our income and theirs vanished overnight"; (top) the Stand Tall with Rashtradoot campaign addressed "three most important pillars"

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